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In a competent first outing, a young woman’s search for her brother among environmental malcontents in New Mexico becomes a quest to find herself.

Lynn Fleming is sleepwalking her way through a Brooklyn summer when her mother demands she come home to rescue her brother from the “Eco-freaks” who have turned him against her. Lynn’s own life is on hold. Her grant money for a neglected dissertation on feminist artists of the ’60s and ’70s is about to dry up, and her affair with Michael, her gadfly married advisor, has hit the skids except for his occasional late night appearances “reeking sweetly of gallery wine.” To Lynn’s credit, given the choice of Albuquerque or Michael’s last-minute invite to Paris, she heads home to the Southwest, her widowed mother, her “lost” brother, Wylie, and the city she hates. She’s soon irrevocably involved in Wylie’s politics and his apartment mates. Her affair with one of the main Eco-pranksters, Angus Beam, leads to her participation in the group’s plots to drain private swimming pools (a waste of water) and close down access to the mountains outside the city (to create a wilderness area), while her mother carries on a blatant affair with David, the married lawyer who lived next door to the Flemings in their old neighborhood. Add to this chaos the mystery of the two sexually provocative paintings by a 1970s artist named Eva Kent that Lynn rediscovers in her mother’s condo. A Pandora’s box of disturbing questions fly out. Was her mother having an affair with David when her father was alive? Where did her father get these paintings? Did he have an affair with Eva Kent, who had a child, lost her mind, and destroyed all her work? The plot lines converge in tragic and comic ways until Lynn struggles out from underneath the confusion, faces the past and is able to move on to her future.

Well crafted if unsurprising.

Pub Date: May 6th, 2005
ISBN: 0-375-41524-6
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2005


FictionTHE CAKE HOUSE by Latifah Salom
by Latifah Salom